Each of us has an internal document that details how we operate. It gives information on how to turn the "engine" on and off, how to maintain it and suggestions for trouble shooting. Problems arise when we don't share the manual with our partner or when our partner fails to respect the valuable information contained in the manual.
Sometimes people are shy about sharing the content of their owner's manual. It can feel selfish to insist that there is a particular thing that works and a myriad of things that don't. This is especially true with your partner thinks he/she knows a better way.
On the other hand, some people think they know how things should work and insist on pursuing their ideas despite the fact that their partner's owner's manual suggests something to the contrary.
We encounter this situation outside of relationships when assembling furniture or toys. There are those who only read the instructions after they've created a huge mess. The same thing happens on road trips. Ignoring the directions can be interesting but it can also be very, very frustrating.
Within a relationship, this arises in two obvious areas...sex and conversation. Each of us has a particular way we like someone to make love to us and we have a particular way we like someone to listen to us. Finding that way and engaging it can eliminate a lot of disappointment and frustration.
The point here is to get comfortable enough with your owner's manual that you can read it out loud to your partner.
And... to respect your partners description of how things should be done.
A healthy couple has read each other's Owner's Manual cover to cover.
These posts are written by Jake Thiessen, PhD, co-founder of Couples at Crossroads. We hope you find them interesting, helpful and maybe provocative. Please feel free to comment on them.